Call +44 207 306 0102 or contact us

MICHAEL ASHDOWN

Call: 2013   

+44 (0)20 7306 0102mashdown@wilberforce.co.uk

Pensions

Michael has an extensive pensions practice , acting for both trustees and employers, as well as the Pensions Regulator and the Pensions Ombudsman. He is regularly instructed as sole counsel,  and as part of a larger team, and his practice encompasses both litigation and non-contentious advice and drafting. He has appeared in important recent cases including British Airways v Airways Pension Scheme Trustee Ltd (both at the High Court trial and in the Court of Appeal), and the Silentnight regulatory case.

Michael is ranked as a leading junior in both Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500 2022 (Pensions) and is described as  ‘Technically excellent, hugely enthusiastic and extremely diligent’, with ‘a strong reputation among employers and trustees for his experience in regulatory matters’ as well as being noted for his expertise in negligence claims’.

Matters of note include:

  • British Airways v Airways Pension Scheme Trustee Ltd. Acting for British Airways in a long-running claim against the trustees of the Airways Pension Scheme for alleged breaches of trust in the exercise of discretionary powers, culminating in a 7-week trial before Morgan J, followed by a successful appeal to the Court of Appeal (reported at [2018] EWCA Civ 1533) (with Michael Tennet QC and Sebastian Allen).
  • Silentnight Group DB Scheme. Acting for the trustees of the Silentnight occupational pension scheme in a large-scale regulatory investigation by the Pensions Regulator (with Jonathan Hilliard QC and Jamie Holmes).
  • The Meghraj Group Pension Scheme. Acting (with Paul Newman QC) for the target of a TPR contribution notice on its forthcoming reference to the Upper Tribunal.
  • Bacci v Green. Acting (as sole counsel) for pension scheme trustees in a complex dispute between a member and his judgment creditors about creditor access to the member’s benefits under the scheme, whether the member’s enhanced protection could be revoked to improve the creditors’ position, and a prior pension sharing order in favour of the member’s spouse (reported at [2022] EWHC 486 (Ch)).
  • Punter Southall Governance Services Ltd v Benge. Acting (as sole counsel) for a beneficiary-trustee of a scheme in a contested blessing concerning payment of a death benefit (reported at [2022] EWHC 193 (Ch)).
  • Nomura International plc v Nomura London Retirement Benefits Plan Trustee Ltd. Acting for an employer in its claim to rectify scheme rules in relation to the pension increases applicable to spouses’ and children’s pensions (with Paul Newman QC).
  • Wolverhampton City Council v Mitie Property Services (UK) Ltd. Acting for the defendant employer in a claim brought by Wolverhampton as Administering Authority of the West Midlands Pension Fund in the Local Government Pension Scheme (with Michael Tennet QC and Sebastian Allen).
  • Pollock v Reed. Acting for the employer in the trustees’ application for blessing of a bulk transfer without member consent (with Robert Ham QC).
  • Acting (as sole counsel) for a scheme trustee in its successful application to the High Court for summary judgment in a dispute about the independent advice requirement in section 48 of the Pension Schemes Act 2015 and regulation 7 of the Pension Schemes Act 2015 (Transitional Provisions and Appropriate Independent Advice) Regulations 2015.
  • Advising scheme trustees in settling a claim by the employer for rectification of the indexation provisions of the scheme rules, with numerous technical difficulties arising in connection with matters such as pension sharing orders, and the tax treatment of pension paid pursuant to the proposed compromise agreement.
  • Advising an employer and trustees on a professional negligence claim against the scheme’s previous solicitors in relation to advice given as to how to manage the cost of the scheme, and in connection with powers of amendment and Courage fetters.
  • Acting for an execution-only SIPP provider in proceedings before the Financial Ombudsman Service concerning allegations of breach of the FCA Handbook “Principles” (PRIN 2.1).
  • Advising a scheme member on the pensions aspects of business restructuring in the context of an HMRC clearance application, and drafting deeds of amendment and notices.
  • Advising offshore pension trustees on the jurisdiction of the UK Pensions Ombudsman in respect of non-UK schemes.
  • Advising the Pensions Regulator on proposed regulatory action under the Pensions Act 2004 (with Sebastian Allen).
  • Advising the Pensions Ombudsman on technical questions connected with pension uprating and pre-5 April 1997 GMP, arising out of member complaints.